Cole is back with another boss non-collaborative album, 4 Your Eyez Only (4YEO) – his fourth studio album, released on December 9, 2016 by Dreamville Records.
First things first – just a peek at the album’s title 4 Your Eyez Only reminds me of one of the greatest hip hop albums, Tupac’s All Eyez on Me. The title is a continuation of Cole’s Forest Hills Drive (FHD) style of replacing the s with z in songs like Wet Dreamz, A Tale of 2 Citiez and Love Yourz – just like Pac.
Head bangers and hip hop bass lovers – Neighbors and Foldin Clothes are your tracks. The first is dope and second is as plain as its last lyrics go: “It’s the simple things.” I love She’s Mine, Pt. 1 and She’s Mine, Pt. 2. They both give me a vibe of FHD’s Love Yourz – I think it’s the keys and minimalism. I am a little underwhelmed and starting to accept that J. Cole albums might never get back to songs written to be hits and go mainstream. It’s cool though because we’ve seen him do it all, and succeed. The sound of a baby crying in the back of She’s Mine, Pt. 1 makes me feel like it’s tied to Lost Ones off Cole World: The Sideline Story. This stripped down duo also make me feel like the album should have been called 4 Your Ears Only.
There are reports that a Cole – Kendrick collaborative album is in the works. That would be interesting to hear as I’ve always loved Kendrick more in collabos. In the mean time, J. Cole seems to be walking down the same path with 4YEO as continuation of FHD’s non-commercial appeal. Interestingly, the double platinum FHD ended up being Cole’s most successful album yet, also the first rap album in 25 years to go platinum without any guest appearances or features.
My favourite – Déjà vu samples the instrumentals of Bryson Tyler’s Exchange. Starting 2.59, Cole’s delivery is so similar to Pac’s in How Do You Want it and other jams. It’s so freaky – if I were a DJ I would just mix the two together. No doubt J. Cole is also Makaveli’s offspring. In a 2014 interview with Steve Lobel about Pac, he said, “Pac was my favourite rapper even before I started rapping … One day my mum’s boyfriend came home with 2Pac’s album and since then, even though I was too young to connect, I could hear Pac’s early albums and feel the truth.”
BONUS: I included a J. Cole video in my Top Music Videos of 2015: Anyiko’s Select 10